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AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt: Convenient high-end USB DAC / Amp, DAC ES9038Q2M, priced at USD 299

AudioQuest has just introduced a new top-of-the-line DAC / Amp model called DragonFly Cobalt, which continues to promote the small DAC / Amp tradition with a USB stick, but the sound quality is extremely impressive. DragonFly Cobalt will be a complete upgrade for the previous Red model with DAC chip ES9038Q2M, the new power circuit and USB Receiver. Estimated price for this product is USD 299 (about 7 million VND)

At the time of its launch in 2012, AudioQuest DragonFly DAC was the first compact portable DAC / Amp to help users improve the sound quality for many different devices, which created a market. completely new mobile audio device. Three years later, thanks to a partnership between AudioQuest and Microchip Technology, two new products were released: DragonFly Black (99 USD) and DragonFly Red (199 USD), reduced power consumption and improved power supply circuit for the part. Signal processing helps both improve sound quality and enhance compatibility with mobile products. Compared to the 3.5mm port or laptop dongles, phones, DragonFly Red and Black output ports provide extremely clear improvement and are easy to verify.
With DragonFly Cobalt, this new product will continue to promote the above strengths of the previous Red and Black series, but the sound quality will be improved by one level compared to its predecessors.

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According to Gordon Rankin, the designer behind the success of the DragonFly product line, this new Cobalt model is not simply an upgrade of components but requires a complete change in circuit design.
The DAC circuit has also been upgraded from ESS ES9016 chip of Dragonfly RED to the latest DAC chip line of ESS, ES9038Q2M. At the same time, the pre-decoding filter part of Cobalt is also changed from ‘fast roll-off minimum phase’ to the ‘slow roll-off minimum phase’ for a more natural ‘sound quality. The filter part of DragonFly Cobalt is completely re-coded, not using the available filters of Saber, this helps the design team actively tune the sound quality as desired.
The Clock part is also very carefully focused to reduce the jitter noise to the lowest possible level with synchronization of the entire signal using only a single clock inside the ES9038Q2M DAC chip (Monoclock mode)

The USB receiver chip still uses the solution from Microchip, but Cobalt uses the upgraded PIC32MX274 chip compared to the previous Red series using PIC32MX270. This helps reduce power consumption compared to the past, although the use of the DAC chip is much more powerful, and in addition to increasing the speed of input signal processing by over 33 percent.

However, the decoding capability of DragonFly Cobalt is limited to 24bit / 96kHz and there is no support for DSD decoding, partly because the limitation of USB Audio Devices Class 1 is outdated compared to the usual USB Audio Class 2 found on the new Portable DAC series. This DragonFly Cobalt model will also continue to support decoding MQA music format so users can enjoy high quality music on digital music streaming services such as TIDAL.

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As for the analog circuit, Cobalt retains the same design as the previous Red line using the Output headphone chip of Saber as the ESS 9601 runs at line-level 2.1 volts. With this output power, Cobalt can only be used with inear headphones or portable portable headsets.
In addition, volume control on source devices (phones, laptops) is also guaranteed to not reduce audio or bit depth details thanks to the "64-bit bit-perfect digital volume control" technology.

A new feature on the DragonFly Cobalt series that previous product lines did not have was the enhancement of the input source filter circuit of the device. This filter circuit is primarily aimed at eliminating the electrical signal interference due to WiFi, Bluetooth, telephone wave and main device battery. This technology has previously been applied on AudioQuest's Jitterbug accessory line and also showed remarkable performance.

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The product will come with an AudioQuest OTG USB-C adapter cord for Android users. For those of you who are using iOS, you need to purchase the Apple Lightning to USB Camera Kit adapter cord separately.

The DragonFly Cobalt product will also be able to upgrade the Firmware similar to the previous Red and Black models. This not only helps users to upgrade sound quality but also enhances the decoding capability of DAC in the future.

The price for this USB DAC / Amp made in Ohio, USA is not cheap, about 300 USD. However, what users get is an extremely compact audio product that can be used anywhere, can be connected to many different devices, the sound quality is guaranteed much better. with mobile devices, laptops.


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